Lit

So you want to be a time traveler!

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If you're an aspiring time traveler, you need to pick up a copy of the brand-new how-to book So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel (Berkley Trade, 326pp., $15). If you are already a time traveler, you should probably pick up a copy, read it, then go back in time till before you time-traveled in the first place, and use your new knowledge wisely.

Wait, does that make any sense? Time travel is some intense and tricky stuff. I got ahold of authors and time-travel experts Phil Hornshaw and Nick Hurwitch for further intel on the matter.

SFBG The book contains several film references (Back to the Future, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, The Terminator, etc). In your opinion, which film offers the most accurate depiction of time travel? Which is the least accurate?

Phil Hornshaw Back to the Future is a pretty reliable resource for the perils of time travel, even if it does take a few liberties in the service of being awesome. Granted, you can’t go into the future and find yourself there — how could you be there in the future if you left from the past? — but the ideas of timelines being corrupted and for the most part, of needing antecedents in the past in order to create the future, is handled pretty deftly in Back to the Future.

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The Performant: Ferocious many

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The Ferocious Few and the Anarchist Bookfair disturb the peace.

In the as-yet unwritten book of Bay Area music, at least one chapter should be devoted solely to the bands whose crowd-wrangling skills and attention-grabbing music was honed on the mean streets. From the Mission District’s once-infamous “Live at Leeds” location, inaugurated by punk band Shotwell and later championed by the imitable Rube Waddell (the band, not the ballplayer), to the wriggling mass hysteria of a Gomorran Social Aid and Pleasure Club Parade, to the compact cacophony of one-person clown band Masha Matin, and the finger-pickin’ good Americana of Brian Belknap, the streets of San Francisco, like the infamous hills, are alive with the sound of music.

Of the current ranks of street-side crooners, The Ferocious Few have come to embody the best qualities of the breed. Combining sheer persistence with a driving, southern-rock-influenced, guitar-and-drum combo, at a volume constantly pushing at the edge of 11, the Few prove that safety may be in numbers, but that rock music was never meant to be safe.

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Panther cry

New Bay anthology "Listen Whitey!" plays the sounds of black power

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culture@sfbg.com

LIT Over a five-year period in Oakland, California, archivist Pat Thomas befriended key leaders of the Black Power movement, dug through Huey Newton's archives at Stanford University, spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on eBay, and talked to rank and file Black Panther Party members. He uncovered dozens of obscure albums, singles, and stray tapes. Along the way, he began to piece together a time period (1967-1974) when revolutionaries were seen as pop culture icons.Read more »

The legacy of racism

Killing the Messenger explores Black Muslim ideology and the cycles of brutality

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steve@sfbg.com

The legacy of brutal racism in this country, particularly against African Americans, shapes the events of today. That's a notion that much of white America resists accepting, particularly conservatives. But actions create reactions, hatred begets hatred, and those cycles can roll forward endlessly and manifest in unpredictable ways.Read more »

What to Read: 'The World of Normal Boys' by K.M. Soehnlein

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Gay coming out novels are a dime a dozen. But The World of Normal Boys is something else. It’s a detailed, play-by-play exploration into the consciousness of a 13-year-old boy as he struggles to figure out who he is meant to be.

K.M. Soehnlein's book encapsulates all the pain and pleasure of growing up a little different, in a society still unsure of the benefits of diversity. Richard Labonte appreciated Soehnlein’s Lambda Award-winning literary effort for opening up the gate for a new type of coming out book – one that even though it’s set in a 1970s New Jersey suburb, it strikes a chord beyond its time and place.

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What to Read: ‘SoMa’ by Kemble Scott

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“Everyone you meet here in San Francisco has some anecdote about 'the wild night I ended up in SoMa,’” author Kemble Scott said back in 2007. Sure, the neighborhood has experienced a gentrified taming since then. The outdoor orgies of yesteryear have been replaced by outdoor patio furniture stores, but luckily the gritty South of Market spirit – a cornucopia of illicit drugs and sexcapades – has been cleverly captured by Scott, pen name of journalist provocateur Scott James, who now writes a local column for The New York Times.

SoMa follows the intertwined path of three young people struggling in San Francisco immediately after the first dot com bust. Unemployed and desensitized, they push their limits and their luck to try to regain a sense of fulfillment. SoMa is now an artifact of the oftentimes-surreal turn-of-the-century subcultures that were embedded in the neighborhood.

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The Performant: Science, Honor, Psychogeography

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The Phenomenauts and Alley Cat Books shoot for the moon.

Trapped in a world they didn’t create, the spacecraft-garage band known to us as The Phenomenauts must surely come from a more evolved time and place, as evidenced by the spiffiness of their natty uniforms -- and the electric jolt of their stage shows. As refinement and heroism (the band motto is “Science and Honor”) are qualities in tragically short supply among your run-of-the-mill rock groups, bands which contain both are bound to stand out, with or without the additions of attention-grabbing technical flourishes such as pinpoint lasers, billows of stage fog, and the custom-built Streamerator 2000, which shoots festive streamers of toilet paper out onto the frenetic crowd. Speaking of frenetic, I love a band that can make San Franciscans dance as if possessed by dervishes with hyperkinesis. For that feat alone, they deserve an intergalactic medal for courage in the face of cosmic indifference.

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Frilly werewolf

Christine Beatty is Not Your Average American Girl

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LIT "When you've lived so far like I have," Christine Beatty's wry voice came crackling through the phone as she drove to Las Vegas to play the slots, "you sometimes just have to catch your eye in the rearview mirror and laugh. I've led such a charmed life, really."Read more »

Snapped

YEAR IN MUSIC 2011: New photo book Murder in the Front Row looks back at the infancy of Bay Area thrash. Plus: top 10 metal albums of the year

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arts@sfbg.com

Year in Music "This is not a definitive history book," Murder in the Front Row author-photographer Brian Lew is careful to point out. "We wanted it to be more like a time machine."

Lew and his co-author, photographer Harald Oimoen, are not household names. Their photographs, on the other hand, are world famous. That's Oimoen's shot of Slayer, wreathed in smoke, on the back of Hell Awaits. Cliff Burton bending a string to the breaking point on the back of Metallica's Ride the Lightning? Oimoen again.Read more »